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Curb Appeal

Hedge Trimmers and Edgers: Which is Best?

Electric vs Gas vs Battery Hedgers/Edgers/Trimmers – Which is Best? 

When it comes to buying new landscaping and lawn equipment, we always find ourselves at a crossroads. From plug-in electric, to rechargeable batteries, to gas powered – so many options make it nearly impossible to choose which is best with any certainty. Fear not! We recently upgraded our tools and are here to share our experience.

After owning the plug-in corded and manual landscaping tools over the years, using gas-powered ones, and then recently purchasing the electric rechargeable battery kinds, we feel confident in recommending this particular brand.

E-GO, purchased at Lowes Home Improvement.

lawn equipment

We choose this brand and could not be happier with our purchase. Our lawn (edging) is small, but we have a lot of bushes and plants and find these rechargeable electric (battery/cordless) products perfect for our needs.

The Pros:

  • We can trim without re-charging the battery at least 2 to 3 times.
  • The batteries are compatible with multiple E-GO tools, so you can swap them between tools with ease.
  • More powerful and reliable than our plug-in corded models.
  • Performed just as well as the gas powered options we’ve tried.

The Cons:

  • If the battery dies during use, you have to wait while the batteries charge.
  • The battery charging fan has a funny smell when charging, so we don’t feel comfortable charging them inside the house.

electric landscaping tools

These are literally the only cons we can come up with. We think our E-GO is awesome! The performance is honestly better than all of our previous plug-in electric models. The cuts are clean and it’s rare (if ever?) that this E-GO hedger/trimmer has gotten stuck in the branches of hedges while trimming.

rechargeable battery for lawn equipment

The battery system is pretty straight forward. Slide it on the charger to charge it, it has a light indicator to show when it’s fully charged. Then you slide it on to whatever E-GO tool you want to use and go! I usually find myself needing to charge it after every third use.

Most of the tools have an option to buy with the battery at a BIG savings versus buying the battery and charger alone. We have one battery for two E-GO tools. I swap the battery between the hedger and the edger with no problems. If you have more than one person working on tool – related yard tasks you may want to opt for more batteries.

Do you have any landscaping tools that make your life easier? We want to hear about it! Share your finds with us in the comments of our social media posts about this article. @DeAnnaAndCompany on Instagram and Facebook.

Note: This is not a paid endorsement or ad. We actually researched and purchased these items all on our own.

Home Hack

How Can You Secure a Home in the Hot Real Estate Market?

Yes, the market is tough for Buyers right now. Inventory is low but demand is high. It is not uncommon for homes to sell for well over asking price. Buyers often find themselves in bidding wars and competing against all-cash offers.

How can you secure a home in the hot real estate market? You’ll need a great strategy and a lot of LUCK! Here are our best tips:


Finding the right real estate team can be a huge advantage in a competitive market. You want someone who knows your local area and will alert you to listings as soon as they hit the market, if not before. A good buyer’s agent will know how to make your offer stand out. Interview more than one agent and ask for references from recent clients. A good fit is key.


A local loan officer can help you win a bidding war. Real estate agents know local loan officers and will remember prior transactions with them that went smoothly.  A local lender will provide a dedicated loan officer that will be accessible and guide you through the process. A local lender will have contacts with inspectors, title agents and appraisers that know your market.   A national lender may not prioritize your application and may not understand the unique needs of lending in your area.


  • Focus only on homes that meet your criteria. Don’t put in offers on every home just because you haven’t gotten an offer accepted.
  • Provide a strong conditional approval. Having a fully documented and underwritten loan approval shows you’re a serious buyer and allows for a speedy closing.
  • Consider waiving contingencies. Fewer contingencies can make your offer more competitive. Consider removing financing, appraisal, or inspection contingencies.
  • Include an escalation clause.  An escalation clause says that you will offer “X” amount over any higher offers that are presented.  This allows you to always present your “highest and best” offer.  Be sure to put a cap on your escalation.
  • Offer a higher earnest money deposit.  An earnest money deposit (EMD) shows the seller you’re a good faith buyer, a higher EMD shows your serious about their home.
  • Accommodate the seller’s closing time.  Some sellers already have another home they are purchasing or a job transfer and require a fast closing.  Other sellers may be waiting for a new home build or to finish a school year.  Being flexible with your closing time can give you an edge.
  • Ask your agent or lender to reach out to the listing agent.  Establishing rapport and a strong relationship can put your offer on top.
  • Write a love letter to the seller.  Let the seller know what you love about their home and why you’re making an offer.  This may be controversial but puts a face to the offer and can make a difference to the current homeowner.

Keep LUCK on your side of the table!

We’re here to help. Give us a call.


Corned Beef and Cabbage (in the Slow Cooker)

Crock Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage (St Patrick’s Day)

This dish is basically like an Irish pot roast. Slow cooked veggies and corned beef makes a hearty dish with wonderful Irish-inspired flavors.


1 Corned Beef Brisket

1 Cabbage

3-4 Carrots -and/or- Parsnips

5 Red Potatoes or 1 mesh bag of small potatoes like Baby Dutch, Jewels, Fingerling, etc.

1 small Onion -or- 3/4 cup Frozen Pearl Onions

2 tablespoons Brown Sugar (optional)

1 Guinness

1.5 cups Beef Broth or Water

Salt and Pepper (to taste) 


We’ve found that cooking this lower for longer makes the meat more tender. We also like to keep our veggies from becoming mush by adding them in stages. If you’re a crock pot pro, feel free to adjust things as you see fit.

  1. Trim the fat off of the brisket then place meat in the bottom of slow cooker.
  2. Add one Guinness, the seasoning packet from the corned beef, and 1.5 cups of beef broth or water. (Alternative: instead of Guinness, use seasoning packet with 3 cups of beef broth OR water with the seasoning packet.) Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.
  3. Peel and chop carrots and parsnips into 1/2” slices and carefully layer on top of corned beef. (The thinner the carrot the faster the cooking.)
  4. Add in the small potatoes whole, or cut large potatoes into 3/4” wedges and place in slow cooker.
  5. Add thinly sliced onions (or use frozen pearl onions). Top with a little fresh cracked salt and pepper.
  6. Cover and raise temperature to high and cook for 2 more hours.
  7. Chop cabbage into 2” wedges. Remove lid and stir the brown sugar into the liquid, leaving the meat on the bottom. Add cabbage to slow cooker.
  8. Cover and continue to cook on high until cabbage and veggies are tender and beef is thoroughly cooked, about 1 to 2 hours longer. Total time is typically about 8 to 10 hours, depending on the size of your brisket.

We like to pair ours with a fresh parsley sauce, by making a simple peppered gravy (like you have with biscuits) but adding in a small bunch of chopped fresh parsley at the end, and using some of the cooked juices from the crock pot to make it thinner.

You will need: Unsalted Butter, Flour, Fresh Garlic, Milk, Fresh Parsley, Juices from the finished meat in the slow cooker, Salt and Pepper

Make it:

  1. Start by measuring 2.5 cups of milk and setting it aside.
  2. Melt 1/4 cup unsalted butter in a pan over medium/medium low heat, add in flour and stir with a whisk until it makes a lump-free smooth paste.
  3. Slowly add the milk and stir with whisk until mixture begins to thicken. Turn off heat.
  4. Stir in 1 bunch of chopped fresh parsley and 1 clove of finely chopped fresh garlic.
  5. Add in small amounts of the fully cooked juices from the slow cooker to thin out the gravy until it is the thickness of a thick syrup or drizzle. Salt and pepper to taste.


Curb Appeal

Sod vs. Seeds, Which is Best?

lawnSod is the quickest way to an instant lawn. So what’s the downside to sod? It’s more expensive, which results in people trying seeds over and over again. In our opinion, it would be better to replace your lawn in phases than to continually waste money on seeds that never take.

Can seeds ever work?

Absolutely! Sometimes seeds do work, but if they don’t work the first time, they’re probably not the solution for your particular situation. It’s time to save up and consider sod. Here are some instances where we’ve seen seeds do well:

  • A resting yard. If the area is mostly undisturbed with minimum foot traffic (no pets or children tearing up the ground) the seeds are more likely to be successful. 
  • Dappled light or areas with shorter lengths of direct sunlight. When the grass germinates, this will keep it from drying out and dying in the harsh sun. Monitor your yard’s sun exposure and make sure to purchase the right type of seeds for your particular situation.
  • When using a sprinkler system, or a strict watering schedule. This will give the seeds the moisture they need. Follow the directions on your particular brand of seeds.

PRO TIP: Follow the specific instructions on your brand of seeds and follow their recommended watering schedule.

Is sod ever affordable?

It’s rarely “cheap” but there are ways to save. Consider purchasing from a local sod farm. A straight-from-farm product is usually cheaper and healthier than that dried out stuff you pick up from the local home improvement store. Most farms deliver the sod straight to your yard. Keep in mind, farms usually sell by the palate, so if you need less than their minimum order, ask a neighbor if they would be interested in splitting the cost.

There are also big savings by installing the sod yourself. It’s not a fun job, and can be a lot of work, so work in stages and/or ask some family or friends to help.

PRO TIP: You must water new sod everyday until it is established. This is best done in the very early morning just before the sun comes up.

What if I don’t want either?

If you’d like to shrink your lawn, design areas to plant bushes. Azaleas bloom pretty flowers every spring and are a very hearty, low maintenance option. Knock Out Roses are a great continuous flowering option. You could also create rock beds or plain mulched zones with or without planters.

Lawn Care Tips:

“Cut it high to thrive!”

First, Florida lawns do much better when cut on the highest mower setting. We’ve found the taller the grass, the deeper the roots, and the thicker the lawn. This is a simple way to keep the grass healthy and block the weeds out.

PRO TIP: If you’re cutting your lawn with the lowest (shortest) blade setting on your mower, that’s probably why it’s not thriving. It’s often the reason for dead or bare spots too.

Next, a sprinkler system with a regular watering schedule is a must for keeping a lawn in Florida. Florida grasses are hearty and drought tolerant but they still need regular watering to really thrive.

DID YOU KNOW?: Your city/county likely has designated watering days. Watering outside of those days can result in fines. (New sod is usually an exception.) Be sure to follow your area’s watering schedule and rules.

Finally, watch out for invaders! Dig or pull up weeds, crab grass, and torpedo grass as soon as you see them. Skip the weed killers.

Cheers to creating a plush, picnic-worthy lawn!

lawn picnic


Home Hack

Meal Subscription Review: EveryPlate

With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, making fresh meals at home can be a hard task to accomplish. However, it’s made MUCH easier with a meal delivery service!

This month we are reviewing EveryPlate.

Based on our experience, we would give EveryPlate 4.5/5 stars. EP customer service has always been FANTASTIC, the price point is the lowest we have found without sacrificing quality, and we have accumulated a LOT of favorite “meal kit” recipes over the course of our subscription.

Over the last 5 months we have had 77 meals from EveryPlate and we tracked our feelings about them all! 57 of those meals we LOVED and would (and do) order them again. Only 20 of them we would not.

The meals we loved: tasted delicious, were filling, and had varying levels of difficulty to make. (Though none of the EveryPlate meal kits are very hard to make. Some are just more time consuming than others.)

The meals we didn’t: were mainly soups or bowls we just didn’t find filling or found the flavors to be something we didn’t want again. However, ZERO of those meals were “bad,” they just weren’t our vibe.

The good news is, you choose which meals you get from a select menu that varies every week.

PRO TIP: Keep track of the recipes you like and dislike so you know what to reorder and what to avoid when they appear in the rotation again.

Our can’t-go-wrong meal kit recommendation: ANY of the EveryPlate pasta dishes or flat breads! They have all been great!

How it works: Every week you get to choose at least 3 meals from a select menu that varies every week. We find this subscription extremely flexible. You can pause weeks, add more than three meals to your box or add on premium meals a la carte, and select meals for your future boxes up to three weeks in advance. We usually create our boxes for three weeks at a time – all at once on their easy-to-use website. They have meat-based and vegetarian options. 90% of the meals we choose are the vegetarian recipes. A basic box of 3 meals starts at around $50, and you can cancel anytime.

What you get: We find EveryPlate to be like a Farmer’s Market approach to meal delivery subscriptions. Everything is delivered weekly like clockwork, in a cute little box with all the large, easy-to-read recipe cards and meal ingredients mixed together inside. (Versus a subscription like Hello Fresh, where each meal comes individually bagged for easier storage and recipe deciphering.) Every week we open a happy little box to find a cardboard crate full of fresh veggies, spice packets, meats, and dry goods. Just imagine you rode down to the farmer’s market and filled your bike basket with all the fresh ingredients for your meals that week. It’s like that! Or at least, that’s how we like to imagine it!

PRO TIP: Consider dedicating a drawer in your fridge to your Every Plate (or other subscription) it makes things so much easier to find and nothing ever goes missing.

What’s not included: Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil, Butter, Milk, Egg. You’ll need the first four all the time, and the last two only occasionally. The 8.5″ x 11″ recipe cards will always tell you what you need on the front, including the items above and the directions are on the back.

PRO TIP: Get a large bottle of good olive oil and a pepper mill, you’ll use those for nearly every meal.

Is it healthy?: Ingredients are delivered FRESH and prepared by you in your kitchen. So right there you will be better than most any prepared, frozen, fast food, or restaurant-served meal. You can also adjust the “unhealthier” things yourself. For example, we now use half the butter, and are conservative with the oil and salt for most meals with minimal impact to flavor. They also offer a lot of vegetarian meal kits that make having a plant-based diet easier to accomplish without getting bored. There are many chicken-sausage, chicken breast, and pork meat options too.

Portion sizes: We would not consider ourselves to be “light eaters,” and have found the portion sizes to be perfect. Meaning, we are full at the end of the meal and there is never anything left over. 

Who it’s great for: Couples or families of four. If you are a single who loves meal prepping with leftovers, or have a hungry trio, it might work for you too – just know you will be ordering meal quantities in even numbers.

PRO TIP: If you’re a couple or family, consider making one person the prep person to wash/cut/gather ingredients and another the “chef.” It’s fun to make the meals together and it feels so much easier than trying to do it all alone. (But the recipes can absolutely be made by one person alone too.)

What’s unique to Every Plate: The cost. As stated above, a basic box of 3 meals starts at around $50, and you can cancel anytime. This was the lowest cost meal service we found that didn’t sacrifice quality. EveryPlate is a sister company to Hello Fresh (which we will be reviewing in the near future!) Which means many of the vegetables, meats, and spices are the same quality at value pricing.

Cons: We find some of the soup and bowl offerings like the risotto to be more of a side than a main meal. There’s also not as many fun upgrades as Hello Fresh offers. For example, Hello Fresh had meal options for celebrating the Super Bowl “BIG GAME” last year – but we will talk about that in our Hello Fresh review! Another con would be always having to order portions in twos. Sometimes my husband would want to add on just one for himself, or our friend’s family of three wanted three portions instead of four, but there’s no ordering or adding portions in odd numbers.

We started EveryPlate as a way to feel like we were dining out during the pandemic. It’s fun to try something that was not in any of our natural cooking instincts, go-to, or everyday rotations. We’ve also become better cooks in the process because we’ve applied techniques we learned in the various EveryPlate recipes to make dishes of our own creation. If you’re looking to venture into a meal subscription, we think EveryPlate is a great service at a great value!

If you’d like to see one of the EveryPlate meal kits we made, it’s our Recipe of the Month! (Click the link to see the recipe Roasted Zucchini, Bell Pepper, and Tomato Penne by EveryPlate.)

*This is not a paid advertisement. We actually have an unsolicited EveryPlate subscription and this is our honest assessment of our personal experience with this service.*


Roasted Zucchini, Bell Pepper, and Tomato Penne

from our EveryPlate meal subscription!

This month we reviewed EveryPlate’s meal subscription service, and here is one of the recipe cards from our box! We make this tasty pasta dish on our own when it’s not available, and add in mushrooms to change it up. Let us know your thoughts if you try it!

front of recipe card

You can read our review of our EveryPlate experience here.

Normally, you’d have everything you need to make this meal included in your subscription box. However, this is the version/measurements that we use to make it on our own.

Ingredients (makes 2 servings):

  • 6 oz. (about 2 cups) bag/box Penne Pasta
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Roma Tomato
  • 2 Green Onion/Scallion stalks
  • 2 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 clove of Garlic (we normally double the fresh garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon of EveryPlate’s “Tuscan Heat Spice” which is red in appearance, finely ground and made up of: Garlic, Basil, Rosemary, Red Pepper, Ground Fennel, and Oregano. (I used Garlic Powder, Italian Seasoning, and Smoked Paprika to make my own version.)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 tablespoon Butter (we use 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)


Curb Appeal

Prepare Garden Beds for Spring Planting

It’s “winter” in Florida, and the cool temps mean it’s the perfect time to get to all those projects that are too-hot-to-handle the rest of the year. Garage organizing, house washing or painting, cleaning the gutters, AND putting some muscle power into the garden is all so much easier when the weather is cooler.

Let’s get started!

We’re not going to trim much. Azaleas and Hydrangea, along with many other flowering bushes, flower on OLD wood – so trimming before the spring would be a big mistake if you want to see them bursting with flowers in a few weeks. This month we are going to focus on the ground and plants that are past their prime.

Tools and Supplies: Plastic Leaf Rake, Metal Garden Rake, Garden Hand Tools (the claw and the scoop), Gloves, Newspaper, Paper Yard Bags, Mulch. 

The right tools make ALL the difference when it comes to spending as little time as possible preparing and maintaining a garden. You’ll thank yourself later for investing in a few items for yard maintenance, even if you have to budget for them over time. 

Paper Yard Bags: Most cities cannot take yard waste in plastic bags. It’s better to have it loose in a dedicated trash can, or in paper yard bags like <<< these found at The Home Depot, and many other home improvement stores.


Rake: Clear beds first by raking leaves with plastic rake. Use a metal garden rake to loosen the topsoil/mix any remaining old mulch into the dirt. Evenly distribute.

Weed: If you can muster the strength, hand weeding things like clover and fern will allow you to dig down to the root and seed pockets – which makes it way harder for those garden invaders to come back so quickly. Dig up and discard dead plants, or ones you plan to replace this year.

Newspaper: This is the Earth-friendly secret to fewer weeds in your garden beds! Newspaper allows water to get through and blocks weeds at the same time. Once you have raked, loosened, and evened out the topsoil, cover the beds with old newspapers. You want it to be about three pages thick. The thicker the newspaper layer, the less weeds can grow. In areas you plan to have potted plants or nothing at all, make your layers a couple of pages thicker. Use only matte newsprint pages, discard any of the glossy coated ones. Once you have blanketed your bed in newsprint, lightly shower the papers with water to get them to stay in place, then cover the whole area with a layer of mulch or pine bark nuggets.

In just a few hours time, you’ll have beautiful garden beds ready for all of your spring planting, OR if you never get around to flowers, you have perfectly manicured and mulched landscaping!

A quick guide for common Central Florida yard waste and debris:

“Yard waste” is natural, organic matter only. Meaning; grass clippings, leaves, branches, weeds, dirt, etc. Plastic mulch bags, old plant containers, nails, screws, and other random things you happen to find outside should go into the regular garbage.

  • Palm fronds, can be stacked together or tied with jute or natural twine.
  • Ties should be an organic material like jute or natural cotton. (Not the white or yellow plastic cord stuff.) 
  • Fill PAPER yard bags about 3/4 of the way to avoid ripping.
  • Avoid those black plastic yard bags, even though the box says they are for yard waste. They don’t break down, so workers have to remove them.
  • It’s fine to fill a can with loose clippings and leaves, you only need to bag or bundle items that are not in a can.
  • Disperse heavier items among several cans (small tree trunks, branches, limbs, etc.) to offset the weight.
  • Large twigs, trunks, branches, bamboo, etc. should be cut into 3’ segements and bundled.
  • Our waste management company says you can typically put out as many cans and bundles as would fit in a large pick up truck bed.

Keep in mind, most yard waste is still tended to by hand by a small team of workers. Make sure your bins, bags, and bundles can be physically picked up to be dumped or hauled away. Over-filling bags and heavy trunk-filled garbage cans makes it really hard on workers, especially in the summer months.

Home Hack

Is A Home Gym Really Worth It?

exercise equipment

Always consult with your doctor before starting a new workout regimen or modifying your diet.

The new year is here which traditionally means everyone is scrambling to buy all the latest gym equipment in effort to turn their homes into a haven of health. But is it worth it?

Probably not. For the vast majority of us, we will fall back to our pre new-years-resolution-health-kick habits by February. In our experience, that means the bedroom stationary bike is more likely to become a new place to hold the dry cleaning more than it’s ever going to be used for exercising.

It’s not entirely sheer will power that keeps us exercising at home. After purchasing (and getting rid of) several gym pieces over the years (multiple bikes, stair climbers, ab machinery, ellipticals, countless weights, DVD’s, and accessories…) The truth is, you will rarely find any big box type of home-gym equipment worth owning that is under $1000.00 retail (new). If you’re anything like us, you may not mind (maybe even like?) using an exercise bike at the gym – and that’s because at the gym it is a several-thousand-dollar piece of equipment, which is reflected in your user experience. This lead me to think “Hey! I love exercise bikes!” SO I purchased a $300 bike for the house only to discover I hate using the bike at home! The user experience and quality between the two is so different, it’s hard to keep up the enthusiasm to workout consistently at home.

exercising in the bedroom

When it comes to creating a “home gym” there are two rules that ring true to us: 1. Create a dedicated space. 2. Invest in gym-quality gear.

If you can’t invest in high quality machines, a traditional gym may be your best bet for long-term commitment. If you don’t have a dedicated space, know that bedroom bikes and laundry room treadmills seldom make for inspiring environments to keep the motivation.

Fear not! There are other ways you can create healthy habits without investing in big machines.

Go Old School

Create a low profile in-home gym environment with a few great DVD’s, a yoga mat, and a simple pair of light dumbbells. We have these DVD’s from back in the day that we still love:

PRO TIP: Just like Netflix, there are a ton of streaming-based exercise options out there if DVD’s aren’t your thing.

Step Up

Walk a little every day. Take a small walk on your lunch break or a stroll after dinner. Try to make it a little further than you did the day before.

Drink More Water

If you don’t drink water, this is an easy way to get healthier. Try to opt for water first when you want a beverage, then go to those sugary or even “diet” drinks second. Before you know it, you’ll be hydrating like a pro!

PRO TIP: If you hate drinking water, it’s probably the quality of water you are drinking. Instead of the tap or fridge spout, buy a gallon of “Spring Water” from the store. We find it’s so much easier to drink!

Eat More Veggies

It is easy to venture into the world of plant based food now. Fine dining and fast food restaurants are offering more and more vegetarian options. For example, Taco Bell can make almost everything on their menu with with black beans instead of beef or chicken.

  • At home, try roasting vegetables like brussels sprouts, bell peppers, zucchini, or carrots in the oven with a small drizzle of olive oil and a little fresh cracked black pepper. They taste so much better than in the microwave!
  • Try substituting zucchini noodles for regular pasta.

PRO TIP: The frozen store-bought quick meal options below are an easy way to venture into vegetarianism through tasty comfort food.

  • MorningStar Meatless Corn Dogs
  • MorningStar Original Chik Patties (they have a spicy Buffalo version too!)
  • MorningStar Chik’N Nuggets
  • Amy’s Mexican Casserole Bowl


  • Reduce how much salt you usually use, or skip the extra salt where you can. Mrs. Dash carries an array of flavorful salt alternatives.
  • Try to use half the butter you normally use as topping, spreads, or to cook with.
  • Get the lower fat version of things you love, like ice cream, diary, etc.
  • Try to reduce your bad carb intake by eating half of something you’d normally eat all of. For example, eat half the bagel or baked potato, or stick to one serving of potato chips according to the nutrition label, rather than a whole bag or random handful.

PRO TIP: Measuring and recording your food in a journal is a great method for staying on track.

Find Healthier Fats

Olive oils provide healthier fats than lard or cheap oils. Reduce fried foods by baking things like frozen french fries at home in the oven. We also know several people who swear by their air fryers.

Cheers to a healthier you in 2022!

We’re trying to do just one thing better for our health at a time. What ways are you planning to get healthier in the New Year? Share your tips and finds with us in the comment section of our social media posts this month.